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Choco-holic

Yesterday was a day of rest for the DD (Danielle Discovers) blog. I like that, DD. Plus it was my nickname among my family when growing up. Technically, it was not a day of rest as I tweaked a few things. I revamped the Discovering a Balance section, added different photos to the Discover photography section and gave my background a sprucing up by adding a little color. You like? They were all subtle changes but changes for the better I think. I am changing as a writer and thus, my blog will change with me.

Seeing that my blog was getting some pampering, I felt it only appropriate that I was let in on the action. While Jon and I were out and about over the weekend, I threw this in our shopping cart.

This was my first time trying this and it will definitely not be my last. As a matter of fact, I am making it my personal mission to have this on hand daily. I have read wonderful things about dark chocolate but the one that stands out the most was the fact that it helps lower blood pressure. High blood pressure runs in my family and when I hear of a superfood that can help reduce this aspect in my family’s life, as well as my own, I tend to jump all over it. I only eat two squares a day when I’m craving that something sweet. It’s a perfect snack or for a dessert craving after dinner. It keeps me from reaching for something else that would otherwise break my hard work I’d put forth during the day. I also found one of my favorite snack bars while out.

Sweet tooth satisfied.

 

I love this bar and not just because it’s good for you, but because it’s dipped in chocolate! I don’t know why I’ve been on a chocolate kick lately but I’m liking it and I think it may be here to stay. So in honor of my new-found choco-holic self, I have created Chocolate Covered Pecan Oats.

I cup boiling vanilla almond milk, 3/4 cup rolled oats, 2 TBS grain sweetened chocolate chips and a handful of unsalted roasted chopped pecans

This is a delicious treat for any choco-holic and also vegan friendly!

This was a little sweet for me so I only ate half of the bowl and saved the other half for dessert. Unfortunately Trader Joe’s was out of my unsweetened vanilla almond milk so the regular stuff had to do. The next time I make these oats I will either use the unsweetened vanilla almond milk or use only 1 TBS grain sweetened chocolate.

Yoga was so great yesterday and it left me feeling pretty sore today. I love that sore feeling. School starts in a week and I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. I don’t know why I am so excited about going back to school but I’m okay with it :). I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a great start to a new week.

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Yoga fever

I have been so spoiled lately… like that’s a bad thing, right? No but seriously, I have been stocking up on some much-needed supplies. Yoga supplies that is. 

I finally got my yogitoes skidless yoga mat towel 😀

I absolutely love the design.

To say that I was ecstatic when purchasing this would be an understatement. I have been going to yoga class with my mat and a standard bath towel. Not only did I look like a goof but I was constantly slipping and readjusting my feet. I used my mat towel at yesterday’s noon hot yoga class and I could not be happier with my new addition. And guess what was waiting for me in my mailbox when I came home from class?

So happy I subscribed!

I love this magazine and often have to pace myself when reading it. I could easily curl up on the couch with a good snack and read the entire thing, cover to cover. I find that if I pace myself, I am able to enjoy reading it for a good two weeks. Not pictured are the two yogitoes yoga headbands purchased with my mat and two new yoga outfits my loving husband treated me to. I have to admit that Old Navy knows what’s up with running some deals. Jon and I went in to take a look at their yoga pants since they were advertised for just $12!! While the pants didn’t appeal to me, I walked away with two yoga tops and two pairs of fitted yoga capris for $50.44. Not bad, not bad at all. After we were finished at Old Navy we went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to see how much their yoga pants were and take a guess… $52 for one pair of pants! Although they did have some on sale for $36, I read the price tags and smiled a little inside because I love me some deal snatching ;). The new yoga attire may not hold up as long as the super durable expensive stuff, but I am just happy to have something for the time being.

Yoga necessities were not the only supplies I stocked up on.

Massage supply tote ($5.00) and a lunch box for those long days at school ($3.99)

Some other primary supplies needed for school were taken care of yesterday as well. I bought my sheets ($12.99 each) and towels ($3.99 each) at our Navy Exchange store. I have had a good run with my deal snatching huh?! The last bit of school supplies needed are my textbooks and I will hopefully be getting them next week *fingers crossed*. I just have to wait on my leftover financial aid to come back to me.

With all of the shopping and running around, I worked up quite the appetite.

It involved some tempeh action mixed with onions and 1TBS unsalted butter

It also involved some of this

And my end result?

Tempeh, onions, feta and basil paired with spanakopita and garlic hummus with olive oil and paprika.

I guess I had mediterranean on the brain but I think my brain was on to something because this was absolutely delicious! Definitely worth replicating again.

Yesterdays doctor appointment went well and she prescribed me a high dose ibuprofen. Not too excited about it but I’m willing to take anything at this point. She also referred me to a gynecologist, as she is a family physician, and hopefully some light will be shed on this problem in the very near future. Now off to relax and read some yoga journal :).

All snuggled up

Yesterday I woke up in pain due to that time of the month. 😦 I didn’t feel like doing much of anything and was severely uncomfortable. I started the day with a hot shower to ease the pain and then slipped into my new robe I received for Christmas. LOVE that thing. It’s so soft and cozy.

With my robe wrapped around me, I found the perfect remedy to ease my discomfort.

 

I love black bean soup! I paired my soup with a handful of chipotle natural tortilla chips and snuggled up on the couch.

delicious!

I felt a little better after my lunch but was still in discomfort. I had a massage appointment at 1:30 and thought the massage would do my pain some justice. Cha-ching! The massage was awesome. It was different from any other massage I have ever had before and THE best one I have ever had, hands down. It only made me that much more excited for school. That glorious hour flew by but I noticed my pain was completely gone! You have no idea how happy this made me. I have suffered from severe monthly pain for 12 years now and no one can explain why. I’ve tried over the counter medications, prescription pain relievers and natural remedies. The pain still shows its face and leaves me bed ridden. I can’t think, eat, walk, let alone work or go to school and find myself extremely weak. I’ve even passed out from the pain on several occasions. It’s serious stuff and with school on the horizon and a possible job, I have to find something to help me work through this. I have an appointment today with my doctor to talk about my options and hopefully be given something for relieving this awful ailment. I refuse to let this pain take an entire day out of my life every month.

Since yesterday was not an easy day for me and no exercise was on the agenda, I will be attending an hour of hot yoga today after my doctor’s appointment. Jon gets off early today, which is a nice treat for the both of us and I still have 3 applications to drop off before 4 o’clock today. Happy Friday to all and I hope this weekend brings you all something adventurous. 🙂

Once upon a time ago

So I feel like I should let my readers in on the long version of how I used to eat. It would explain why almost all of my eats are vegetarian or vegan. When I was 12 years old I was overweight, refused to brush my hair, ate McDonalds hamburgers at least 3 times a week for a straight month (mainly because my mom won a bunch of coupons through work) and just down right didn’t care about myself. Then again, a healthy lifestyle is usually not a priority for a 12-year-old. One night, while being supervised by two vegetarian sisters that were friends of the family, I began to inquire on why they were vegetarian. They enlightened me on some of the reasons why without being too graphic for a 12-year-old and let’s just say their point was very clear. Almost immediately I cut red meat out of my diet and since I am not much of a seafood fan, chicken was the primary meat I consumed at the time. Shortly after I made this change, I cut chicken out as well and made the transition into vegetarianism. I lost 30 pounds.

After loosing a bit of weight, I was feeling good and taking care of myself in every way I knew how. I guess you could say I was “blossoming” into a woman, haha. When I turned 15 I really started getting into fitness. I would purchase fitness magazines and replicate the at-home workouts as well as jogging and swimming. During this time I began eating poultry again and measuring everything that went into my body. If a cheez-it box said one serving was 22 crackers, I would count out 22 crackers and allow myself only one serving per day. I wrote down everything that I consumed, including fat grams and calories. I was jogging almost every morning followed by swimming laps in our pool and would then go inside for some crunches and push ups. I was addicted. I wish I could say it was a healthy addiction but it would get to the point that if I ate something that deviated from my “healthy” foods list, I would immediately run 2 miles to counter balance the sinful action. At my lowest weight for my height (5’6”) and build (very dense bones) I was 130 and wearing a size 3 pant comfortably. Although I felt satisfaction when I looked in the mirror, my mind was constantly obsessing about what was going in my body and how I would work it off. My family started saying things like, “You’re getting a little skinny there don’t you think?” and I’ll never forget what my grandmother said to me one day… “You’re getting a little too thin Danielle. You’ve lost your shape and are looking like a boy.”

I do not know what clicked in my head at that point but I knew I hated the war that was raging inside. With all of my extra activities I was involved with (marching band, softball, working and AP classes) my workouts became non-existent and I gained 15 pounds. It looked healthy on me and I was content. After I gained some weight back, I reverted back to vegetarianism and remained vegetarian for 2 years (ages 16-18). Then I met a guy. He was all about eating meat but didn’t mind my lack of excitement for the stuff. I was doing good until 6 months into our relationship… I started craving meat! I fought the cravings for a while but ended up giving in and would eat meat sporadically throughout the following 6 months. And not just meat, I ate everything… good and bad.

While out at a Borders Book Store, I came across a book called ‘Skinny Bitch’. I read the back and thought it was going to be a really great motivational book on how to navigate me to a healthier way of being… boy, did it ever. I had no idea the book was pro-vegan but found that once I read the first chapter, I couldn’t stop. It took me only a couple of days to read the book and two days later, I embarked on my journey of becoming vegan. I gave up all meat, dairy, eggs, caffeine, hydrogenated anything, high fructose corn syrup and any other ingredient I couldn’t pronounce. I did it for the sake of the animals, for the sake of the resources we could be saving but most of all for the sake of my own health. I began shopping at whole foods for all of my groceries and read everything on every label of food that I bought. I bought vegan cook books and started cooking for myself for the very first time. I promoted the lifestyle to anybody and everybody. I was working out in the gym 4-5 days a week, working full-time and going to school part-time but I felt great. I even wrote my persuasive speech for speech class on why one should be vegan. I also gave my demonstration speech on how to make vegan oatmeal cookies and brought freshly baked vegan oatmeal cookies into class with me. I was hooked.

Flash forward a year and things were wearing on me. I was having a difficult time with staying away from cheese. I would practically convulse at the sight and smell of pizza. Something was changing inside of me. I didn’t want to give up on this journey, I have come so far and learned so much. But then the day came… cheese got the best of me. I felt like a loser, a failure and was completely embarrassed. Much like when I would eat something not on my “healthy” food list except I couldn’t exercise away the mistake I just made. On that day I had a talk with myself in my head. I told myself that I am more exhausted about the way my mind controls my mood when I eat certain things than actually eating them. It’s all mind over matter. I felt trapped by what I was supposed to be eating to uphold my label of being vegan rather than listening to what my body wanted. And when my body got what it wanted, I would make myself feel bad about it and punish myself mentally. I later recognized this was not a healthy way of living either. I was happy with eating cheese. I was okay with not being known as “vegan” and I was not going to care about what others thought of me for it. I started eating cheese again, leaving all others out but was perfectly content. 

That was when I was 19 years old. I am now 23 and up until about 3 months ago, lived a vegetarian lifestyle eating cheese and the occasional egg. I was eating tons of veggies, tempeh, organic everything and cooked with olive oil and butter. I thought this would be my lifestyle for the rest of my life until I started noticing problems. I was loosing my hair…fast. My nails had dips in them, I was constantly drained and very moody. I wasn’t sure what was going on with me and it took me a while to really start paying attention to the signs my body was giving me. I mean I have thick hair and shed enough as it is and always blamed my moodiness and fatigue on PMS or stress or just a bad day. Everything started to click when I noticed my nails were growing out with more dips in them and my hair was thinning. I have never had thinning hair…ever. I started to wonder if it had anything to do with me not eating meat. I made an appointment with my doctor and spoke with her one on one about my issues. She told me to start taking a B-complex vitamin and exercise… so I did. Still no change. 

In October 2010 I ate my first piece of chicken in over 3 years. It felt so foreign and I didn’t eat very much of it. Over the next 3 months I began incorporating organic poultry and occasional grass-fed beef. I didn’t want to admit it but I have felt a world of difference. My hair has reduced down to my normal shedding, my nails are growing out dip-free, I find that my energy level has increased and my moodiness has found a balance. I still have some of my vegetarian/vegan roots but I have found a way to incorporate it into what my body needs. I do not drink cow’s milk nor have I in 4 years. I eat eggs very rarely and only when I have a strong craving for them. I still eat tempeh and read most of my food labels to ensure I know what I am eating. My body has changed a lot since I was 19. My hips have filled out, my bust is the largest it’s ever been and I’ve taken more of a womans shape. At first, I fought tooth and nail to lose weight and get down to my 19 year-old weight again but soon realized it was a waste of time. Things change, people change and our bodies adapt to our age. As long as I am feeding my body nourishing food and engaging it in regular activity, that teenager goal weight doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

Do I have some pounds I’d like to drop? Sure (10-15 to be exact)

Do I expect it to happen in a month? Heck no.

 The last bit of weight is always the hardest and it is most successful with a complete lifestyle change for the better. Which brings me to the point of my life I am at now. My lifestyle needs some tweaks, consistency, moderation and patience. I feel like I have a good foundation but have not built upon it to receive the benefits I could be gaining. My main reason for writing this post is for me to purge my last bit of frustration about eating meat now a days and to give you guys a piece of myself. But I’d also like to send this message… don’t get stuck on labels. Please. When I was vegan I argued with meat eaters that it was not necessary for us to consume meat and that we have adapted as animals to easily live a vegan lifestyle. While we may not need meat to survive and are an intelligent species, everybody’s body is different. I cannot stress this enough. What is good for a vegan’s body may not work for my body, no matter how much I want it to. Different bodies have different needs.

I’ll end on that note and I hope that everyone is getting much-needed rest. 🙂

Deal snatcher

Yesterday was another busy day for me. I was up early and had an appetite with a mind of its own. I racked my brain on what I was going to create with coconut and oatmeal…then I came across this gem sitting in my fridge.

liquid heaven

This stuff is my absolute favorite! I usually use my unsweetened vanilla almond milk for recipes, cereal and oatmeal but I like to treat myself every once in a while ;). Besides, I can only get it at a whole foods (which don’t exist here) and my mother was kind enough to give Jon and I a whole foods gift card for Christmas and took us to gather our goods while we were visiting. Mom always knows a way to brighten my day! I only have a cup of this luscious milk as a dessert but thought it would lay the perfect foundation for my coconut oatmeal creation. I present to you my rendition of almond joy oats.

I boiled 1 cup chocolate hemp milk with 3/4 cup rolled oats. Right before I took the oats off of the stove I stirred in 3 generous pinches of unsweetened shredded coconut. I then topped the oats with another pinch of coconut and a small handful of unsalted sliced roasted almonds.

 Uh-mazing!

The oats were just the right amount of sweet, the coconut added that almond joy texture and the almonds gave it a delightful crunch. Simple and efficient. It was so filling that I ate only 3/4 of the bowl and didn’t eat again until 1:30, which means my breakfast left me satisfied for about 4 1/2 hours. That works for me! After my hot yoga class I applied at a couple more places and then did a little shopping deal snatching. We received a $25 gift card for Bed Bath & Beyond and since I need a few sheet sets for massage school, I figured I would see what they had. Unfortunately, even their clearance sheets were over priced so I looked around at some other items on clearance. You will not believe what I managed to walk out of the store with for just $30.

I've been looking everywhere for one of these to signify Jon and I's 1st Christmas together. ($2.50)

Decorative Christmas bird house. Cute, no? ($2.50)

A set of 16 Christmas cards for next year. ($3.75)

Christmas candles ($5.00 for both)

The cutest Christmas countdown wreath ever! ($2.50)

This would have come in handy a week and a half ago! ($7.99)

 

This will ensure the next snowman that I make won't miss a thing 😉

Oh, and don’t think I forgot about my two babies.

Ruca got a new toy ($1.00)

and Jon got a 2011 calender of his favorite show's characters. ($3.75)

Let’s add it all up, shall we. All of the above came to a total of $30.44 including tax! That’s a savings of $62.92!!! After my $25 gift card was applied, a little over $5 was owed on my part… I can handle that. I’m sorry for being overly excited but I just love snatching up deals. All of the Christmas decor will be put away until next year and there will be no excuse for a lack of Christmas spirit the next time around. After my triumphant victory at the triple B’s, I walked next door to Books-a-million to grab a day planner for school. What do ya know, they were on sale too… score!

cuteness at half price ($6.50)

My shopping spree was coming to an end as I approached checkout with my planner in hand…. until.

How could I pass these up??! ($9.99)

12 ornaments representing the 12 days of Christmas... genius!

...and pictures :). I love these little guys.

Thanks for hanging in there while I ranted about the deals I snatched up yesterday. When you don’t get out of the house much, it’s easy to get excited over the little things.

Not being able to get out of the house is about to change in about a week and a half because as of today I am officially a Cayce/Reilly massotherapy student!!! 😀 My registration appointment was this morning and I have a massage at 1:30 tomorrow to get a glimpse of what I will be partaking in. And guess how much the massage is…. $10.00 for an hour! It just keeps getting better and better. I still have a few other supplies I need to pick up before school starts, not to mention my books, and am still job hunting. I have orientation on the 17th and then school starts the 18th…definitely excited! I hope everyone is enjoying their day and was able to snatch up a deal lately. If not, get yer’ asses out there!

Ughh

The title perfectly describes the kind of day I had yesterday. I was out and about all day, dealing with a simple yet frustrating oil change. I waited 2 hours for an oil change and tire rotation and had to go back to the dealership twice. Once because I forgot my water bottle, and it’s not just any water bottle, and then again because the mechanics working on my car forgot to put together the lining on the passenger side foot area. I went back and forth with my gas light on until I finally filled up (scared the crap out of me). Next, I went to three different places to grab applications and then came home to make something to eat before I had to pick Jon up from watch. We only have access to get on base with my car because his stickers had fallen off his. So, I had to drop him off and pick him up to go grab a second set of stickers for his car. When I walked through the door, the fresh odor of dog poop filled my nostrils…Ugghh. My pup had gone to the bathroom in her cage, walked through it and ruined the only toy that was there to keep her busy. So in the bath went the pup and my only time at home was spent cleaning her cage :(.

“Focus on the positive Danielle, focus on the positive.”

What were the positives, you ask?

I remembered my beloved water bottle

LOVE this thing. It's heavy-duty and comes with a durable workout friendly top not pictured.

I had the best snack while waiting on my car

New favorite

love me some coconut

At dinner, I filled my salad with plenty of the “baby” romaine lettuce I love so much

aren't they cute?

It’s been pretty chilly lately, giving me the perfect excuse to sport my new coat and my obsession with scarfs

I guess it wasn’t that bad, right? I think I need to partake in some yoga love today to rejuvenate. I’ve been getting up pretty early lately which has been surprisingly nice. I have never considered myself a morning person but before 8 o’clock today I have had my coffee, spoke with my mother, watched a Dr. Oz show, set up my web cam to Skype with my dad and posted in the blog… not bad, eh? Plus, it’s good practice for my body for when school starts in two weeks.

For today? An hour of hot yoga, drop off applications and pick up a few more, do the dishes (bleh) and since coconut is on the brain, make some kind of coconut oatmeal. 🙂

During the last two weeks of my absence, I managed to capture some of the festivities and eats that accompanied me. Let’s start with my lunch the day we left which included

LOVE this stuff

Tempeh is so versatile and is a great substitute for meat. Tofu is alright but I only preferred it when it was served in a Thai dish, but tempeh is on a whole different level for me. I cannot say enough good about the stuff but maybe this will help

Holy protein!

Those magnificent numbers above are for half of the package as there is two servings. I usually only use 1/4 or less for each meal I make with it. I paired my tempeh with bell peppers, hummus, fresh garlic, paprika and feta cheese and wrapped it all up in a whole wheat tortilla.

SOO good!

I love my wraps and this one was one of my favorites for sure. I also engaged in a classic favorite over the vacation

Tomato basil soup and grilled cheese

Talk about a walk down memory lane! It has been forever since I’ve had those together.

Sadly, I did not get any pictures of family as every time we got together I seemed to have forgotten my camera at the other family’s house :(. This made me extremely sad and next time I’m around family, I will be armed with my camera. There are many things I need to learn when traveling, like bringing my own healthy snacks and discovering to put a healthy twist on the unhealthy dishes, along with remembering my camera in the most necessary situations. When Christmas came around I had quite a bit of presents to open. I was so thankful for all that I received from everyone. From yoga attire, a fancy new toothbrush, slippers, numerous gift cards and FSU clothing to money, a boston terrier ornament and perfume. Even though all of my gifts were awesome and thoughtful, there was one that was my favorite

A thoughtful charm bracelet from my mother-in-law 🙂

I loved this gift for its thoughtfulness and it was so personable. She gave me this with wedding bells to signify Jon and I getting married, a peace sign because that’s the type of girl I am, a spacer for the two charms and two stoppers for each side. I cannot wait to add my personality to this bad boy… Thanks Tammy! The following pictures are from our trip

This was a present from Jon. The day we left there was a thin blanket of snow on the ground but not enough to make a snowman like I've always wanted to do, so Jon made me my very own snowman on the hood of his car while we were getting gas 🙂

Creepiest hotel and place I have ever been.

Ruca all curled up on my lap under the blanket sleeping... what she does best

Brandon, my 7-year-old brother-in-law, waiting for his brand new basketball hoop to be assembled... isn't he cute?

Jon, in hour 1 of 5, putting the basketball hoop together.

 

Me and Ruca basking in the 70 degree Florida warmth watching the assembly go down from the side lines. 😉

On our way home, December 26th,  we soon realized that we were heading directly into the worst snowstorm for the Virginia Beach area in the last 21 years. They accumulated 13.3 inches of snow in one day, the downtown tunnel was closed, the roads were HORRIBLE, and almost every business was closed. We ended up staying the night in North Carolina, leaving us with 4 1/2 hours of driving on the 27th. The hotel we stayed at lost power due to the storm and every place we stopped for breakfast was closed. I have never seen anything like it in my entire life. Even though it sounded yucky, I managed to capture the beautiful snow-capped trees along the way

Mr. grumpy gills... but he's still so darn cute!

But the real excitement came when we got home and had enough snow to make my very first snowman!

Jon helped with the bottom construction but quickly found out how painful the cold was with the wrong kind of gloves, so I bared it alone

An hour and a half, two brussel sprout eyes, stick arms, and a carrot chipped mouth later, there he was!

I was so ready to come in and warm up after my creation, that I forgot his scarf and to take an official picture with him. So when we woke up the next morning, I posed for a pajama filled picture with Mr. Snowman

Please excuse the loud plaid pj's and the half wakened eyes

That about sums it up! The snow is all gone now and so is my snowman 😦 but I’m just content with being able to finally make one. Now to get pumped up for the New England vs. Miami game. Two of my favorite teams playing against each other and since New England has the better record, I’m going to have to root for the Pats… sorry Miami, I still love you.